Interview with Vladimir Paniouchkine
The Mr. & Ms. Collection, also known as The Mr. Collection
and The Ms. Collection
, is a personal styling subscription service that will connect you with brands you can rent, without the fear of commitment. Our Style Team will hand-select looks especially for you, using your Style Profile, sizing, preferences and feedback as our guide. If you have fallen in love with an item we have sent, you can purchase it with your exclusive member discount.
Hi Vladimir! Could you please introduce your work with The Mr. & Ms. Collection and tell us a bit more about what led to your founding the company?
Hello, my name is Vladimir Paniouchkine, the co-founder and CEO of The Mr. & Ms. Collection, a clothing rental subscription and styling service for both men and women. My partner and I founded the company with the belief that everybody should have the right to look great, without the cost and environmental impact of doing so. The idea itself stemmed from a need that I had coming out of college, wanting to look better as an adult and I went into department stores to do just that. I quickly became overwhelmed. I didn't know what tie went with what, if a colour looked good on me and I had zero style experience. I saw a mannequin and I said I'll buy what that professionally styled mannequin has on. I started to add up the $75 shirt, the $80 pants, the sweater and the belt and it quickly became apparent to me that, that was going be my entire budget on just one outfit. I came home and explained this problem to my girlfriend who is now my wife and business partner, and we thought that there had to be a better way. We sought to find the solution and there was none, and we took matters into our own hands. Thus, The Mr. Collection was born in 2012 and now it's called The Mr. & Ms. Collection which I will dive deeper into during the next questions.
What are some of the main ways the rise of rentable clothes is changing the clothing and fashion industry?
Think about this, the average American doesn't use 80% of the clothing that they buy and store in their closet. Think about yourself, the last time you walked into your closet and thought, I have nothing to wear while staring at a closet full of clothing. This has led to the textile crisis we're facing today. A truck load worth of textiles is either burnt or dumped every single second. They're not cheap to manufacture either. One hundred and eight million tonnes of non-renewable resources are used in the manufacture of textiles every single year. This means by 2050, textiles will account for 25% of the global carbon budget. We're buying twice as much, yet wearing them for half the time. It is highly irrational to buy something and wear it three times or less. The rise of the Instagram generation has a lot to do with this. Once it's posted, people are less likely to wear that item again. We believe the solution is second-hand and more notably, rental. This is where we come in. We ship rental packages directly to our members doorstep. They get to wear as long as they'd like and send back what they truly don't wish to purchase. Dynamic ownership has already taken over our digital lives. Think about the way you consume your movies, music and more of your physical goods will start entering that space. Soon you won't have to buy a car and you can just rely on Uber or Google's autonomous car service. Likewise, you won't need to buy clothing you can just use our rental subscription service as a closet in the cloud.
What separates The Mr. & Ms. Collection from other clothing rental companies?
We are a pioneer in the fashion rental space and the way we stand apart from our competition is that, we are the only rental subscription service for women and men. Another key factor is that, we truly personalise each experience to our members, that means rerouting a package to make sure it gets to a hotel room in time for an important meeting or styling somebody for their baby's gender reveal party. We are part of their special events and everyday life. Our members have noticed this and are writing constantly thanking us for our personal touches and well wishes. They really appreciate a human touch, rather than just a bot that recommends items to them. While we are integrating more predictive algorithms to help our stylists make the best selections for our members, our focus will remain as it always has been to be a personalised styling service first, with the assistance of technology.
How has The Mr. & Ms. Collection grown since the company was first founded?
We started with The Mr. Collection in 2012 with the founding of the company, under the belief that the guys needed more help in looking better. In the first year, we listened to our members and more importantly we listened to the significant others of our members, and introduced the women's side of the service in 2014. Hence now we're known as The Mr. & Ms. Collection. In those early years, we were also a once a month model which introduced a big bottleneck for that one time a month that we shipped. The logical step was unlimited and in 2016 we shifted into that. We still at that time offered packages based on clothing types, formulas for business, one was for casual, which we affectionately labelled The Play Collection and in 2018, we continued to listen to our members and they were demanding a best of both worlds answer. We made that more fluid and introduced item-based tier subscriptions. Now, a member can choose between how many items they want to receive and be able to be styled for all of life's occasions including, the next business meeting, the date night, or just hanging out on the weekend. We have it all covered.
What's next for your work with The Mr. & Ms. Collection? What are the main projects and partnerships you'll be focusing on throughout the next year?
Over the next year, we will continue to add features, brands and styles to make the fashion experience an even better one for our members. We will start our first, outside capital raise, of a seed round of five million dollars which will help us in four primary ways. These are: add more talented individuals to our fantastic team, grow the selections and brands to inventory and our partnerships, start marketing not only relying on SEO and word of mouth to grow the company, and lastly, bring the development team in-house to help us iterate faster on the features that our members are requesting. To date, we have shipped over 40 thousand packages which has helped keep two hundred thousand items out of landfills. We believe our business is investable scalable and proven. We're looking for the right partner to help us reach the next level, and to make a bigger impact if any investors are watching this, please feel free to contact me and we can set up a proper pitch.